'Outrageously Gifted'

10 Jul 20143
Bono was in London a few days ago for the 2014 Nordoff Robbins Silver Clef Awards. Presenting the  Raymond Weil International Award to the 'outrageously gifted but graceful' Pharrell Williams, here's what Bono had to say.

'Not far from here at his office in Soho, Charles Darwin said that he thought the music business was the finest example of the survival of the fittest.
And it's true. There are a lot of great bottom feeders here this afternoon… a few circling sharks… the odd killer whale… crocodiles… and let's not forget the species that evolution left behind… the dinosaur… who managed to survive as long as they did by shrinking. I’m just saying…  
And all of us on our best behaviour for the great organization that is Nordoff Robbins.
Darwin, as well as saying 'it is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive... but those who can best manage change', also said that at the top of the evolutionary ladder are a species who can turn our lives upside down and can say everything they want to say in less than three minutes. This is impossible for most species - especially the species known as the Irish.
It’s just hard - unless you’re Black Sabbath who bring in 'Paranoid' at 2mins and 47 seconds or Tom Jones, 'It’s Not Unusual', a tight 1min and 56 seconds.
It turns out that 'It’s Not Unusual' is VERY unusual.
The perfect 45 is illusive - that’s a vinyl reference children.
But even some of us who say we don’t need them and who like a bit of wafting and a bit of musical experimentation, we will admit, if we are honest, that our musical lives began on hearing a perfect 45.
Whether punk rock, hip-hop, disco or hard-rock, it was usually the perfect 45 that kicked it all off for us. We're not talking about happy little pop ditties that numb the pain but are so sweet they rot your teeth. We’re talking about happy as in a joyous overflowing of the human spirit... JOYOUS.
As in 'Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof', as in 'Clap along if you feel that happiness is the truth'.
 Now Darwin felt that his theory could explain every human emotion but that one. At the pinnacle of human emotion there lies joy, he said. JOY.
'It’s not logical,' he said. Actually, that was Dr. Spock.   
Back to Darwin. His friend, the Vicar, Brody Innes told him,  'Charles, it’s worse than you think, real joy comes out of the knowledge of sadness... and triumphing over it.'
In fact Darwin was about to give up when he read the words:
'Like the legend of the phoenix
All ends with beginnings
That keeps the planet spinning
The force from the beginning.'

He could not explain how you might feel 'like a room without a roof',  why people might clap along whilst believing 'happiness is the truth'.
There is no empirical evidence for continuing with this behaviour. He searched his vocabulary for the right word. Indeed he wept as he could only find one word to describe these joyous outbursts that we call the perfect hook. MIRACLES, he said, they are MIRACLES.
How else would you describe Beethoven or the Beatles, Little Richard or the Buzzcocks,  Marvin Gaye or, say, Pharrell Williams?
Miracles - of defiance against ones mortality.
A three-minute song that tells the world to fuck off if it won’t play along… is Joy as an act of defiance.
And there is nothing more romantic than defiance.
And there is no more romantic figure in the world of pop, hip-hop, soul, rock or even folk music right now than the outrageously gifted but graceful man that is Pharrell Williams.
Or as we call him in Dublin… Farrell Williams.
Check him out!'
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'Happy' by Pharrel Williams
Honestly, I didn't like the song at first. It seemed a little shallow, but after awhile it seemed to catch me. I guess that I didn't like the part about 'happiness being the truth' because I could dissolve, lyrically, into reasons why happiness in my personal experience is not 'truth' but the overwhelming urge of simply be positive took over and I didn't have a care after that.
Can't help it...
The geek in me must correct an error in Bono's speech: it is Mr. Spock, from Star Trek, who would have commented "It's not logical". Dr. Spock was the renowned American pediatrician. Sorry, just couldn't let that one go...
Happiness is a warm gun
Another great speech by the man from the northside of Dublin. And it's funny because I didn't like the song 'Happy' from the beginning. But then I went to Dublin and walking down Grafton Street there was this band called 'Keywest'. They were busking there, playing an unplugged version of this Pharrell Williams song which really blew me away. And guess what - two members of the band were from the northside of Dublin - not far away from the place where 'The Larry Mullen Band' did their first rehearsals. So, clap your hands if you feel that happiness is the truth...
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